Renewable Energy Requirements For New Construction

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The latest update to the California Building Code (CBC) took effect on January 1st, 2017, and requires new construction be more energy efficient.  Further demonstrating its leadership in sustainability, the City of Brisbane has chosen to exceed the state’s standards by requiring new development to include a modest on-site renewable energy generation component.  Specifically,  the City’s building code will require installation of solar photovoltaic (PV) for new buildings or solar thermal for on-site energy generation.  The solar PV requirements start at a minimum of 1 kilowatt systems for single family residences and range up to minimum sizes of 5 kilowatt systems for large commercial buildings.  These requirements are fairly modest and may be considered as a starting point for individual applicants to right-size to a larger system based on site specific design considerations.  The requirements are applicable to new residential and non-residential building permit applications submitted after February 4, 2017.

The provisions of the ordinance will not apply to existing homes or businesses; so remodels and additions to existing structures will not be subject to these requirements, although the City continues to encourage solar installations on existing buildings and has a streamlined permitting process for those applications (see the Residential Rooftop Solar Page).

For further information on the solar and cool roof requirements for new construction, please refer to Ordinance No 613. Flush-mounted rooftop solar systems are now exempt from building height limits, consistent with Ordinance 622 adopted by the City Council in November. To be considered flush-mounted, the panels may not extend more than twenty-four (24) inches above the roofline of the structure on which they are mounted, measured from the exterior roofing material to the highest point of the panel. Non-flush mounted panels extending more than 24 inches above the roofline are still subject to compliance with the building height limits of the zoning district in which the building is located.

If you have questions regarding these new code provisions, or if you have other questions about building construction requirements, please contact the Community Development Department at (415) 508-2120.